UK Graduate Visa Route opens for applications

Willans’ business immigration experts update members on recent news concerning graduate visas and working in the UK.

On 1 July 2021, the UK Graduate Visa Route opened for applications. The visa enables international students who have completed an eligible UK degree to stay in the UK to work (or look for work) after completing their studies.

If you are an employer, it is important to know the basic rights and limitations of this visa, particularly if you are interviewing international graduates. Read on for more information about the eligibility criteria and rights under this visa, along with some specific COVID-19 considerations.

Requirements for eligibility

To be eligible international students must have:

  • completed a UK bachelor’s or postgraduate degree at a Higher Education Provider which is a student sponsor with a track record of compliance; or
  • completed a professional course requiring study at UK bachelor’s degree level or above, in a profession with reserved activities that is regulated by UK law or UK public law; or
  • been sponsored to undertake a role as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer following the completion of an eligible qualification in their most recent grant of permission to study.

Students must:

  • be in the UK at the date of application; and
  • have a valid student or Tier 4 student visa; and
  • have spent a minimum period of time studying in the UK

Rights under the visa

Under this visa, international graduates are permitted to:

  • stay in the UK for 2 years (for those with a bachelor’s or master’s degree) or 3 years (for those with a doctorate)
  • look for work
  • once employment has been found, work flexibly
  • undertake roles at any skill level with no salary requirement
  • switch jobs

Impact of COVID-19

There are concessions in place for international students who have been unable to travel to the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Where distance learning has taken place outside of the UK as a result of COVID-19, the following concessions apply:

  • studies which began in autumn 2020 or spring 2021: students can switch into the Graduate Immigration Route if they enter the UK by 27 September 2021;
  • studies beginning autumn 2021 or spring 2022: student can switch into the Graduate Immigration Route if they enter the UK by 6 April 2022.

If your prospective employee is an international graduate, Willans LLP solicitors can help you understand the rights and limitations their visa has.  Additionally, we can help you make an application for a Certificate for Sponsorship to employ graduates whose visas are coming to an end.

Willans LLP has extensive experience in advising a wide range of businesses on all aspects of business immigration law in the UK. If your business would benefit from advice on the above or another related matter, please call (01242 514000) or email us for support. Contact

Categories: Member News

Posted by:

Willans LLP Solicitors

Hayley Ainsworth, Solicitor

Willans LLP Solicitors

Willans LLP is a law firm noted for giving expert, practical and personal service to businesses, individuals and charities & not-for-profit organisations. We act for local, national and overseas clients and offer comprehensive legal services in residential property/conveyancing; divorce & family law; wills, probate & trusts; agriculture & estates; dispute resolution/litigation; employment law; commercial property; corporate & commercial; intellectual property; information technology & e-commerce; inheritance & probate disputes; property litigation; GDPR advisory and charity law. The firm has been part of the Gloucestershire community for…

View company details

Leave a Reply

The support and networking opportunities that the Chamber offered to me as director of a new business really appealed. The board and members I spoke to seemed really interested in my business.

Alastair James Roberts ACII
Alastair James Insurance Brokers


Becoming a member

The Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of thousands of local businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions. Our members range from small shops and local business groups to leading industry associations and large corporations. They all share one thing in common—they count on the Chamber to create opportunities and to improve the local business environment.